Brattleboro Selectboard tables skatepark design change

BRATTLEBORO -- At Tuesday night's meeting, the Selectboard declined to approve a change to the design of the skatepark proposed for Crowell Lot.

The Skatepark Committee last month voted to reduce the size of the proposed skatepark from 11,000 square feet to 5,000 square feet, largely because the committee has not been able to raise enough money to fund the larger park.

The committee asked the Selectboard to approve the change Tuesday so it would be able to go before the Brattleboro School Board and the Development Review Board, both of which will need to approve the size reduction if the committee does in fact move ahead with its plan to build the skatepark at Crowell Lot.

But after almost one-and-a-half hours of public debate, some of which grew passionate and emotional, the Selectboard instead voted to table the decision until the board's Nov. 5 meeting.

The Selectboard voted 3-2 to table the discussion.

Selectboard member John Allen voted down the move to table the decision.

Allen, who was on the Selectboard in 2010 when the project was first approved, said the committee members have worked too hard and long to get to this point.

Allen also argued that there already has been a lengthy public process and he said the supporters deserved to have the opportunity to try to raise the money.

Selectboard member David Schoales also voted down the proposal to table the decision.

Earlier in the night Schoales said he favored reopening the public debate on the controversial skatepark.

Schoales, who is also a member of the Brattleboro School Board, said with so much obvious opposition to the Crowell Lot location, it was in the best interest of the town to hold more public meetings on the project.

Selectboard member Donna Macomber also said it made sense to hold more public hearings on the park, and board member Kate O'Connor supported the move to table the discussion until there was more clarity on which direction the board wanted to go.

O'Connor said before the board made a decision to approve the design change or reject it, it was important for the board to be clear about the process for the committee, and for the public, moving forward.

Board Chairman David Gartenstein explained that the board could approve the design or reject it.

The board could order more public hearings, Gartenstein said, or even open up a site selection process, requiring the skatepark supporters to go back to the beginning.

Gartenstein said he wanted to begin a new public hearing process about two years ago, but at that point the Selectboard was made up of four different board members.

That board voted 3-2 at that point to allow the skatepark committee to continue working on the plan.

But Gartenstein, who also voted to table the decision, said Tuesday that there was now a new board and it was reasonable to open the topic back up for discussion.

At Tuesday night's meeting it was very unclear what might happen next.

With the board's decision to table the decision the skatepark committee must now wait before applying for a new permit with the Development Review Board.

Any discussions with the school board will also have to wait and the skatepark designer who is working on the project can not finalize a design until the concept is approved.

The board also did not commit to a process for moving forward, regardless of how it eventually votes on the design change.

Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at 802-254-2311 ext. 279 or Follow Howard .


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